This new report from the Transnational Institute and Friends of the Earth International explores the role of multistakeholderism in the COVID crises, when multistakeholder initiatives, working outside the multilateral system, acted as governing bodies. A follow-up to COVAX, a joint study published in March 2021, this report situates COVID-related multistakeholder undertakings within the overall strategy of the Global North towards the Global South.
In this new report, expert academic Harris Gleckman identifies four types of approaches used by powerful governments and corporations to address the spread of the virus in an unequal world. It looks at the way healthcare markets, permeated by economic, social, and gender inequalities, have provided a platform for a global COVID-19 upsurge. It shows how the multistakeholder group ACT-A (Access to COVID Tools Accelerator), together with COVAX, have led to the proliferation of other multistakeholder initiatives ‘fighting COVID’ with their eyes on power and profits. The report argues that peoples’ lives—the vulnerable, the marginalised and the under-resourced, especially from the Global South—should not be pieces on the power game played by Northern governments and corporations.
The report calls for the immediate termination of COVAX and every other multistakeholder group claiming to be ‘fighting COVID’. Resources and activities, it argues, should be transferred to the emergency fund of an expanded, accountable, and legitimate World Health Organization, one that is supported by countries and other United Nations bodies.